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Meet Skip, the bomb-sniffing dog at UAPD

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Kate Ewing | The Daily Wildcat

Skip from the University of Arizona Police Department K-9 unit sits on the grass in front of the Hall of Champions on April 13.

The University of Arizona's Police Department’s bomb-sniffing dog, “Skip,” is nominated for the 2022 American Humane Hero Dog Awards. 

This national competition recognizes dogs under seven different categories, and Skip falls under the law enforcement and detection category. He is the sole dog representing the state of Arizona. 

Winners for each respective category are honored at the star-studded American Humane Hero Dog Awards gala in Palm Beach, according to the contest website. The contest began on Jan. 13 and will continue until Sept. 13. Individuals 18 years and older can vote for a dog every 9 hours. To vote for Skip — in the "Law Enforcement and Detection" category — or any other nominees, got to herodogawards.org.

Skip ran up, with what could only be thought of as a smile on his face, next to his handler and partner, UAPD officer Lauren Connell. Connell has served as an officer in the K-9 unit since 2019, when she first received Skip. Skip was acquired by UAPD due to a grant from the Southern Arizona Law Enforcement Foundation. 

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Skip, a chocolate lab, is considered an employee at UAPD and is owned by the department. He lives with Connell 24/7 and works routine shifts on campus with her. 

Connell said a typical day on duty for the duo varies, but can usually be filled with brushing up on training, helping with patrols, getting in exercise for Skip or playing fetch. 

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Skip and Connell work to ensure campus safety at major events by sweeping for any potential bomb threats. This includes sweeping at men’s and women’s basketball games, upcoming football games, festivals and anything else that involves a lot of foot traffic. 

Connell explained that their job is mainly preventative work. They worked most recently to oversee the Tucson Festival of Books. 

“We do preventative sweeps at all major games, any large-scale events,” Connell said. “We will be at the upcoming graduation.” 

The UAPD K-9 unit assists other agencies in the Southern Arizona jurisdiction, so if the Tucson Police Department requires some assistance, Skip is on call. 

The National Police Canine Association is an organization that administers certification to the UAPD’s K-9 Unit yearly. During Skip's most recent re-certification, he received gun detection certification. Connell explained this training typically goes hand in hand with explosive detection. 

“If we need to help other agencies, it adds comfort knowing he has that training,” Connell said. 

Skip has assisted in detecting ammunition and weapons used in homicides, according to his bio on the Hero Dog Awards website

While the pair works on serious business for the UAPD or assisting other law enforcement entities, Connell still described Skip as very playful and excitable. 

“We are always learning something new. He’s very smart and sometimes he might use that to try to cheat his way to his reward sooner,” Connell said.

To see more of Skip and his dog grin, follow him on Instagram @uarizonak9


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